NAB likely to send questionnaire to Nawaz

Updated March 21, 2020


Lahore NAB had asked Nawaz to appear for a hearing in the case against Mir Shakilur Rehman on Friday. — AFP/File
Lahore NAB had asked Nawaz to appear for a hearing in the case against Mir Shakilur Rehman on Friday. — AFP/File

LAHORE: As no response came from former premier Nawaz Sharif on Friday in the land case involving the Jang group’s editor-in-chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) is now considering sending him a questionnaire at his address in London.

The Lahore NAB had asked Mr Sharif to appear for a hearing in this case on Friday (March 20).

“The summons were delivered to Nawaz Sharif in London for his appearance before a combined investigation team of NAB on Friday, but it received no response from him in this regard,” a source told Dawn.

He said the bureau might send him a questionnaire seeking a reply about allotment of land to Mr Rehman in alleged violation of rules.

The NAB had arrested Shakilur Rehman on March 12 in a 34-year-old case related to 54-kanal plot of land he had allegedly acquired “illegally” when Nawaz Sharif was Punjab’s chief minister.

Mr Rehman is on physical remand till March 25.

On a visit to Lahore office of the bureau on Thursday, NAB chairman retired justice Javed Iqbal was briefed about Mr Rehman’s case.

According to NAB, a combined investigation team (CIT) headed by its Lahore chief Shahzad Saleem briefed the chairman about Mr Rehman’s case.

Justice Iqbal said NAB believed in freedom of media. “The bureau has been discharging its national duties as per law and ensuring merit against alleged corrupt elements without taking any kind of pressure, threat or bowing before any propaganda campaign launched against it,” he said. Mr Rehman had said he had purchased the property in question from a private party and given all evidence to the bureau, including the duties and taxes paid.

The Commonwealth Journalists Association (CJA) has called upon the government to release Mir Shakil-ur- Rahman, saying that his arrest before hearings had begun was contrary to the norms and was being widely seen as an attempt to intimidate the country’s largest independent media group.

The CJA also deplored an action by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority to instruct all cable distributors to stop broadcasting Geo TV.

In another clear indication of the government’s pressurising of independent media, the Jang Group and the Dawn Media Group, owner of the leading English-language Dawn newspaper, had been suffering since January from a government decision to withdraw advertising as a sanction for their independent critical reporting on government policy and actions, the statement added.

The CJA termed these actions an attempt to penalise two leading independent media companies. “We call on the government to honour the commitments it made in the Commonwealth Charter to uphold freedom of expression and a free media which is protected by law in its freedom to report and comment on public affairs.”

The CJA urged Prime Minister Imran Khan to lift curbs on the media and to create an environment where the media could work without fear of reprisal.

Published in Dawn, March 21st, 2020